You’ll need a good reason for an extension, EU warns UK: Donald Tusk says ‘we have done everything possible’ to secure a deal and Britain must be ready for a no deal Brexit
- Donald Tusk said Britain would need a ‘credible justification’ for a Brexit delay
- The European Council president said the EU had done ‘everything possible’
- He said the chances of a no-deal exit were ‘significantly higher’ after latest vote
Britain will need a good reason for a Brexit delay if the House of Commons asks for an extension to Article 50 this week, Donald Tusk has warned.
The European Council president said Brussels would consider a ‘reasoned request’ for a longer Brexit process but demanded that the UK supply a ‘credible justification’.
Mr Tusk said the chances of a no-deal Brexit were ‘significantly higher’ after MPs rejected Theresa May’s agreement for a second time.
He said it was ‘difficult to see what more we can do’ to help Mrs May win support for her deal in Parliament.
Fellow EU heavyweight Guy Verhofstadt said that Brexiteers had wanted to ‘take back control’ but said the UK’s exit had instead ‘spiralled out of control’.
Donald Tusk, pictured, has warned that Britain will need a ‘credible justification’ for a Brexit delay if MPs support an extension to Article 50 this week
Saying that a solution to the Brexit crisis ‘can only be found in London’, he said Brussels would continue its preparations for a possible no-deal exit on March 29.
European leaders including Emmanuel Macron have previously warned that the UK will need a good reason to request a delay.
A spokesman for Mr Tusk said: ‘We regret the outcome of tonight’s vote and are disappointed that the UK Government has been unable to ensure a majority for the Withdrawal Agreement agreed by both parties in November.
‘On the EU side we have done all that is possible to reach an agreement. Given the additional assurances provided by the EU in December, January and yesterday, it is difficult to see what more we can do.
‘If there is a solution to the current impasse, it can only be found in London.
‘The EU, for its part, continues to stand by the Withdrawal Agreement, including the backstop, which serves to prevent a hard border in Ireland and preserve the integrity of the single market unless and until alternative arrangements can be found.
‘With only 17 days left to March 29, today’s vote has significantly increased the likelihood of a no-deal Brexit. We will continue our no-deal preparations and ensure that we will be ready if such a scenario arises.
‘Should there be a UK reasoned request for an extension, the EU27 will consider it and decide by unanimity.
‘The EU27 will expect a credible justification for a possible extension and its duration. The smooth functioning of the EU institutions will need to be ensured.’
EU negotiator Michel Barnier tweeted a similar reaction to tonight’s result, saying: ‘The EU has done everything it can to help get the Withdrawal Agreement over the line.
Theresa May, pictured in the House of Commons tonight, said MPs would vote on a no-deal exit tomorrow after her withdrawal agreement was rejected again
‘The impasse can only be solved in the UK. Our ‘no-deal’ preparations are now more important than ever before.’
Meanwhile Guy Verhofstadt, the European Parliament’s representative in Brexit negotiations, said: ‘Brexit was about taking back control, instead the UK spiralled out of control.
‘Only cross-party cooperation putting Country first, can end this mess. If this happens we will fully engage.’
The 149-vote defeat for the Prime Minister tonight leaves her Brexit plans in chaos just 17 days before departure day.
The PM had raced to Strasbourg for last-ditch talks on Monday night in the hope that new assurances on the Irish backstop would help her deal over the line.
European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker had earlier warned that if MPs turned down the package agreed in Strasbourg on Monday, there would be ‘no third chance’ to renegotiate.
MPs are now due to vote on Wednesday on whether they are willing for the UK to leave the EU without a deal on March 29.
Mrs May announced that she will grant Conservative MPs a free vote on the motion tomorrow.
It will say: ‘This House declines to approve leaving the European Union without a Withdrawal Agreement and a framework on the future relationship on March 29, 2019 and notes that leaving without a deal remains the default in UK and EU law unless this House and the EU ratify an agreement.’